Acton Institute Powerblog

Food Stamp Sticker Shock

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Grocery shopping is not a chore I enjoy. It’s a mundane task, and everything you buy you will have to soon replace. Then, when you finally get to the end of the chore, you look at the register and think, “HOW much??”

It gets worse.

You and I (American taxpayers) managed to “misspend” $2.4 billion this year on food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.)

How did we manage this?

According to the USDA’s audit for 2014, the government keeps giving food stamps to people who don’t fit the criteria. States are supposed to get such folks to pay back the debt, but that isn’t happening. While no one argues that we must have a safety net for people who cannot afford nutritional food for themselves and their families, SNAP is a bloated and wasteful mess.

At the Heritage Foundation, Robert Rector and Katherine Bradley make this recommendation:

Congress and the Administration should transform food stamps into a program that encourages work and self-sufficiency, close eligibility loopholes, and, after the recession ends, reduce food stamp spending to pre-recession levels.

Alexandra Gourdikian points out that no one wants to get rid of SNAP, but there is clearly too much waste and fraud. Further, SNAP does nothing to encourage people to work or even look for work. Far too often, what this means is, once you start getting SNAP benefits, you’ll always get SNAP benefits.

Rector and Bradley also point out that SNAP benefits require no drug testing, and illegal immigrants (usually ones who have children who have been born in the U.S.) easily receive SNAP benefits.

There is one other glaring problem: the government has spent the past few years actively recruiting people for SNAP. Large companies like Coca-Cola and Walmart lobby for this: they make a lot of money from it. This type of crony capitalism is costing you and me big bucks at the grocery store. It’s time to end the sticker shock.

Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.